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Quilt #6: Lady Bug Love

May 28, 2015

Back in February, I shared with you a quilt I made for El.  It was made out of a large stash of hospital baby blankets I had accumulated after the births of my two daughters.  Lo and behold, the stash was so large that I still had enough scraps for a second quilt!  These baby blankets were the perfect soft, squishy materials to make a soft, squishy blanket.

I had a handful of nine patch blocks floating around after Quilt #2... and so, continued making more blocks til I used up all of the colored bits of the baby blankets.  Using solid color scraps, I created log cabin-esque blocks with the nine patch blocks in the center.  One panel after another... I kept going til I had enough blocks to make a decent size twin blanket.

Some inspirations below:




Did you know? One of the earliest log cabin quilts recorded in history dates back to 1869, according to Barbara Brackman's database.   (Check out Barbara's blog here - there's a lot to look at... quilts, histories, prints, graphical elements!)  In America, the log cabin quilt pattern hit its high note during the third and fourth quarters of the 19th century.

But, according to Women Folk, the log cabin pattern can be found across the Atlantic in Europe during the 1700's.  Maybe not in the form of a quilt, but as patterning for bags and boxes.

But, even before that, there is a British theory called 'the mummy theory' in which during the 1900's, when the first Egyptian tombs were opened, they found the log cabin pattern used with strips of linen wrapped around cat mummies!  Holy Toledo!


Excited by the idea that this quilt was somehow cosmically linked by centuries to an ancient culture, I barrelled on and started putting my pieces together.

After I got Coco's seal of approval, I finished the front and the back panels.



The back panel materials came from donated fabrics, old clothes from the girls (and Phia!), and a chunk of my own baby blanket (Thanks, Mom!)

This quilt is definitely the softest and squishiest blanket I've ever made.  It's got a permanent spot on our couch, it seems.  It captures the very essence of what a quilt is - it's always there when you need it, it feels like that much needed hug, and it will just get softer and softer as it ages.

This quilt is for you, my bold, little lady bug!


Tuesday Tidbits - Of Course! But, Maybe...

May 27, 2015

+ Love isn't meant to be forever?

+ How a rubber tire authority became a restaurant authority

+ Facial hair is art?

+ Give the homeless a place to call home?

+ When first sitting down to write, just write like crap.

+ Cheap wine may be killing you...

+ A medievel cure for superbugs?

+ Rothko as cafeteria wall decor? Say it ain't so!

+ See! Germs really can be our friends!

+ The other side of being Asian (or when you're not good at math or kung-fu)

+ Sunglasses (from 12th Century Chinese judges to sinners to cool kids)

+ Unplug and be bored

+ Capitalism creates Cool?

+ Rat Packs of NYC

+ Mosquitos love me more

+ Finding undocumented workers and saving lives

+ Norway's unique approach to education

+ Chernobyl - Too busy being radioactive to decay

+ My little secret thing to do in NYC

+ What your bad tattoo says about you

+ The secrets of the shipping industry

+ Diamonds are these plants' best friends

+ Bacteria Zombies

+ The Chinese have gotten this 'we' thing down pat

+ Oregon's lake going down the 'drain'

+ Werner Herzog walking on the edge of doom

+ Can we save ourselves from plastic?

+ Bees - 21 days in a life

+ And, baby beluga makes three!

+ Jonathan, the turtle. (b.1902)

+ The place where space ships go to die

+ Cat people, beware!

+ Patagonia's anti-growth strategy

+ New species named

+ Saviors in the post-apocalyptic world?

A Taste of Africa

May 25, 2015

Today was the last day of (another!) long holiday weekend... It was miserable, rainy, and cold (shocker.) since we left Munich last week.  The Inn Valley where we live was covered in a heavy cloud coverage for days on end... I hadn't seen the sun or the mountains for a week straight.  And, I don't have to mention how this affected our moods.

So, when Sunday came around we gave up, packed up, and high-tailed it back to Munich for a CHANCE at seeing the sun... and maybe something else besides gray clouds... 

Luckily, Sophia found us something fun to do... Afrika Tag - an African Festival at Theresienwiese!  We were just here a few weeks back at the Oktoberfest fairgrounds for a huge flea market. 

This time, we had a new set of wheels on hand... a lovely, old wagon... very much loved and given to us by friends.  The wagon had a newly repaired drawbar, custom fitted seats and back rest, AND a side umbrella.  Mikel-Phia don't mess around, people!

El spent a few quiet moments at the woven baskets stand... testing out the mini-baskets for sale.

Next up, drum testing...

The 'worry dolls' and bobble head turtles caught El's eye... and a hundred eyes bobbled back at her when we bumped into the table!

As I am a self-proclaimed Ottolenghi fan, my foray into his recipes has lead me to the world of spices.  A bag of harissa was given to me by our friend, Michael, and I must say... it's altered my taste buds forever!

If you haven't tried dried harissa, you must!  If you ever come across any (lucky you!), grab some and give it a whirl.  I put it on everything - eggs, popcorn, chips, a grilled cheese, roasted anything.... it's like a warm hug.  I swear, I'm not a big spice fan... a bit of a wimp, actually... but harissa is the perfect amount of warmth and brings a dish up a notch!

If you can't wait, like I couldn't... you can make some yourself! The Noshery has a good recipe here.

When Sophia suggested the African Festival, I immediately thought, "Ooh, spices!!  I can get some spices to make harissa!!"  And, luckily for us, there was a lovely woman, named Lalasoa from Mada Spice, and she had ready made dried harissa.  Score!!

She is from Madagascar... and grows and dries all of the spices herself.  Double score!!!


I grabbed three bottles of harissa (because who knows when I'll run into this stuff again), some ground cardamon, some star anise (for pho, of course!), and a bag of Rooibos Chai (my two favorite teas, in ONE!).  It was a grand day, indeed!

Topped off, only by a few nibbles from a camel!

Camels are quite tall in person.  They have beautiful, big brown eyes... very matted hair (in need of a brush)... and the touchy-feeliest of lips!

Afterwards, we had Ethiopian food (my first time!).  Unfortunately, I didn't get a pic fast enough (we must have been famished?!) because we finished the plate of food in a flash.  All I can remember are flatbreads similar to a heavy crepe (injera), a few spicy meat dishes, a yellow lentil stew, a spinach and carrot dish, a salad, and a creamy cheese on top - all eaten by hand.  Delicious!

Post-digestif time consisted of tickles and cuddles from Dada... and a few sweets such as baklava, peanut cookies, walnut cookies, and a few stuffed dates... of which Lil enjoyed and had...


On the road again... Lil pulled El...

... and El pulled Lil.

Back home, a few more antics before we hit the road back to Austria.

Graffiti Artist on the Run



Til next time, Munich.  It won't be until Thursday that we'll have a sunny day (and 73 degrees!) again... so we'll hang on to these lovely moments of bright African colors and flavors and all of the fun and the laughs with Mikel-Phia!!


Tuesday Tidbits - Growing Pains

May 20, 2015


* chores for kids

* why French kids don't have ADHD

* genetics of violence

* Swiss parents vs US parents

* stay at home parent - so not a luxury

* look away from the screens

* why stepping on a lego sucks

* caring for other people's kids

* making that one hour count

* hey, grown up - looking for a young adult novel to read?

* preparing for Alzheimer's

* France bans wifi

* catching up with cancer

* the truth about lying

* can fasting help us live longer?

* things dads can do for girls

* searching for awe

* eating well - the new eating disorder?

* giving up sentimental items

* death - missing from medical school?

* the paradox of choice

* Fran Lebowitz on her childhood

* girls - the secret side

* science themed girls clothing collection

* slowing down, captured.

* learning through tinkering

* losing the ability to love

* emoticons are changing language

* can women really change men?

* fade to black

* that awkward phase - we've all been there

* benefits of a nagging mom?

* learning to speak up

* eat up - and be happy

* overcoming shyness

* getting older - living better

* avalanche of unnecessary medical care

* post-partum bouncing back rush

* an alarming spike in US maternal mortality

* move over, man-child.  meet woman-child. 

* IVF - how it works

* happy wife, happy life?

* kids learn through play

* children of working mothers

* the real reason we need a man

Munich Mayhem (Lemon Tart)

May 18, 2015

Farewell, Snowman!

This weekend was a four-day weekend (with a forecast of colder temps and rain) so we high-tailed it out of our Tirolean village to Munich.  I learned later that this 'cold snap' was no surprise to some.

It is said that during the days of May 11th (St. Mamertus), 12th (St. Pancratius), 13th (St. Servatius), 14th (St. Boniface), and 15th (St. Sophia) , "black-thorn winter" arrives each year on the feast days of the Ice Saints and brings with it the last frost of winter.  Farmers and gardeners are warned to not plant before this period or their plants will see a doomed fate by meeting the last frost of the season.


And, yes, the last few days were wet and dreary... but luckily, there was no frost.  We kicked winter's final breath into next year with visits with family and friends, lots of wine, and a warm welcome to higher temperatures with fresh food and a yummy Lemon Tart!

I had a bag of lemons sitting on the counter... and what better way to use them then to make Lemon Curd!  This was my first time making a batch of this citrus sunshine... honestly, because the word 'curd' just never sounded so appealing to me.  Boy, have I seen the error of my ways!

Homemade Lemon Curd

I found the recipe over hereSusie has a great blog with lots of German inspired recipes that I will be sure to bookmark for future reference!

I used four regular lemons - all the juice and all of the zest, 3/4C of sugar, and a stick of butter.  It took me about two minutes of constant whisking over medium heat til the mixture transformed itself from wet and loose to thick and creamy.  Listen for the sound... the mixture tells you when it's ready!

Show Time!!!

Act II of this production - lemon curd meets sweet tart crust aka Pâte Sucrée!

The Messy Baker has a good post on how to make Michel Roux's sweet shortcrust... off you go!!

I followed the instructions to the T... and yet my pastry was still a bit too soft, too wet, too sticky.  I added dustings of flour until the dough held together in a beautiful and smooth ball.  Never give up if things don't seem right... If the dough had been too crumbly, then a few spoons of water should do the trick.

My tart was a bit too high in the end because I had originally wanted to do a meringue topping... but, the plan was aborted when I didn't have enough eggs! Boo!

Instead, yummy blueberries and a dollop of whipped cream brought this dessert together.  Enjoy!

A Taste of Summer

Friday, Granny hosted an afternoon tea with belated birthday cakes for Ella! We love cake and candles!

Lily loves to give an assist to the candle blowing.  Not so close!!!

Pack Mentality

Saturday was beautiful.  And, of course, the whole gang headed out to Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo.

Lil & Dada

Johanna & Moritz

Animal Magic

After making it through the crowds (aka strollers and wagon traffic jams!) and seeing most of our favorite animals (Nemo! Dori!), it was time for the real fun!

Vroom, Vroom!

Johanna & Ella

Moritz & Ella

Phew! They don't call it 'a day at the zoo' for nothing.  In the end, we were pooped.  Thanks so much to Auntie Phia for making the day so wonderful. 

Tired Monkeys